Since the the end of the Cold War, the Indian strategic community has vigorously debated its international policies. Three broad perspectives are contending for dominance: internationalism, liberalism, and realism.
Internationalists argue that international politics can be co-operative and that a relentless commitment to negotiations, international institutions and morally informed diplomacy can trump competition and violence. Internationalists oppose alliances and want India to champion the cause of the weak and poor.
Liberals see in globalisation the means of lifting India into a first-rank power. For them, economic strength and interdependence will promote co-operation and peace. To reap the benefits of globalisation, India must align with the United States and jettison its leadership of the developing countries.
Realists insist that the world is a competitive place, co-operation is fleeting, and military power and violence are the staples of international relations. For India to be a great power, it must be a first-rate military power above all. Realists see the US as an unreliable, waning force. India must therefore look after itself.
Internationalists suggest that nuclear proliferation in the end can only be ensured through verifiable global disarmament. Liberals would support arms control measures such as nuclear reductions, a test ban, and a fissile material cutoff. Realists oppose disarmament and want no limits on India's growing nuclear arsenal.
Internationalists would promote negotiations with Pakistan towards a regional solution of Afghanistan's troubles and bilateral deals with Islamabad on Kashmir, terrorism and other differences. Liberals would support a regional accord on Afghanistan and a bilateral deal with Pakistan, but would put regional trade and energy at the heart of any long-term solution. Realists would have India put troops into Afghanistan if necessary and use force against a terror-exporting Pakistan.
In the past decade, Indian policies have inclined towards liberalism, but as the country's power grows one can expect an intensifying debate over its international relations.
Taken from a seminar given by Professor Kanti Bajpai at Policy Network yesterday; www.foresightproject.net; www.policy-network.net